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Now is the Time Project AWARE Mental Health First Aid Grants


As a part of the President’s Now Is the Time initiative in response to school violence, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has funded a series of grant programs to support the training of school personnel and other adults who interact with youth in both school and community settings to detect and respond to mental illness in children and youth, including how to encourage adolescents and their families experiencing problems to seek appropriate services and supports.

In FY2014, SAMHSA funded 119 state and local educational agencies to support training school personnel in Mental Health First Aid, known as the Now is the Time Project AWARE State and Local Educational Agency Grants. See the list of awardees here.

The Now Is the Time Project AWARE-Community Grants were awarded in FY2015, to 70 community-based organizations and provide over $8 million in funding to build on local Mental Health First Aid initiatives and develop new partnerships. While the target audience continues to focus on youth, the AWARE-C grants expanded the grantee eligibility to a broader group of organizations and individuals that also may serve transitional age youth, including: foster parents, child welfare workers, juvenile justice workers and judges, sports/recreational workers, homeless shelter staff, front line staff of local Family Service Centers, Catholic Charities, YWCA and YMCA, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, community colleges and universities and more.

Please direct any questions related to Mental Health First Aid or Youth Mental Health First Aid to

Please direct any other questions related to the Project AWARE grant programs to or


Resources for Existing Grantees

WEBINAR: What’s Next: Mental Health First Aid and Project AWARE-Community Grants

Archived informational webinar for Now Is the Time Project AWARE-Community grantees outlining the following topics:
• Overview of Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid
• Mental Health First Aid USA support for Project AWARE-C activities
• How to get individuals trained as instructors
• Guidelines for hosting an instructor training
• Upcoming trainings

Recording  Ι  Webinar Slides

Become an Instructor

Looking for upcoming instructor trainings? Click here to review the process, view available training locations and submit an application. Please note that registration is not finalized until a candidate submits a completed application and receives an acceptance email following review by National Council.

Hosting an On-Site Instructor Certification Training

Interested in hosting your own on-site Instructor Certification Training for up to 30 participants? Download and review the Steps to Success -Host Site Quick Guide, then email us to find out when we can bring the training to you!

If you are already hosting an upcoming Instructor Certification Training and have spaces available for other Project AWARE grantees, please email us the number of spaces and the cost of the training at

Instructors Certified through Project AWARE: Additional Requirements and Provisions

We have assembled a brief overview of some of the provisions specific to Project AWARE involved Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructors. This list is not exhaustive and grantees should refer to the Grantee Manual provided by SAMHSA for an in depth overview of the limitations and requirements of instructors trained through Project AWARE.

Questions about the Mental Health First Aid training or additional resources? Email:

Frequently Asked Questions

This section will be updated regularly.

Instructor Certification

Who can become an instructor?
Individuals over 18 can become instructors. To teach the youth curriculum, candidates must also specifically work with youth age 12-18 under the specific requirements of the grant.                                           .
Can instructors teach both adult and youth Mental Health First Aid courses?
Yes, instructors are permitted to teach both the adult and youth courses if they are certified in both. Certification is obtained following successful completion of a either a youth or adult 5-day certification course, followed by a 3 day certification course of the other. For example, an instructor may be certified in a full Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor training, then attend the first 3 days of an Adult instructor training.  AWARE-C ONLY: Instructors are not permitted to teach both the Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid course through the Project AWARE grant. Grantees were required to select either Mental Health First Aid or Youth Mental Health First Aid, depending on their proposed population of focus.
What is Provisionally Certified status?
National Trainers will issue a status of Provisionally Certified based on the exam and presentation score earned by a Mental Health First Aid instructor candidate. This category is reserved for those instructors who demonstrate potential and who National Trainers believe will need additional support to deliver the curriculum effectively. Rather than have a binary system of pass or fail for instructor candidates, Mental Health First Aid USA has created a Provisionally Certified status. A document outlining further details regarding Provisionally Certified status is provided to each instructor candidate during the training.
If an Instructor becomes Provisionally Certified, does it mean s/he passed the course?
Yes, this is a passing status and the individual is certified. The Provisional Instructor is awarded a certificate along with all Fully Certified Instructors. Please note the two restrictions that Provisionally Certified Instructors must follow while in this status: 1) Instructors must co-teach with a fully certified instructor at all times and 2) Instructors may not enroll in an expedited Instructor Training for additional Instructor certification (i.e. if an instructor has Provisional status as an Adult Mental Health First Aid, s/he may not apply to become a Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor as a part of an expedited training).
How do I maintain my instructor certification?
Instructors must teach at least three certification courses annually based on their anniversary date to maintain their certification. If an instructor has both adult and youth certifications, they must teach at least one course of each type annually (i.e. two youth courses and one adult course or two adult courses and one youth course).
If I am an instructor, may I certify other instructors?
No, instructor certification only qualifies participants to conduct the 8-hour course. National (“master”) Trainers are the only individuals authorized to certify instructors through a 5-day instructor training offered by the National Authorities of Mental Health First Aid USA.
How do I become a National Trainer?
Mental Health First Aid USA does not currently need additional National Trainers. Certified instructors in good standing and with significant training experience will be invited to apply for any available National Trainer positions should opportunities arise in the future.
Is Mental Health First Aid USA able to provide instructor training at my location?
Instructor training opportunities for will be scheduled throughout 2015. Tuition is a flat rate of $2,000 per person. Should a Project Aware grantee wish to train up to 30 instructors simultaneously, Mental Health First Aid USA can provide training onsite at their location for a flat rate of $35,000. If Project AWARE grantees have 10-15 participants and are interested in hosting an on-site training, please email to discuss an alternative available option.
How do I become certified to teach specific Mental Health First Aid Curriculum Supplements (Veterans, Higher Education, or Public Safety)?
Curriculum Supplements are designed for Mental Health First Aid instructors when training particular audiences which include slides, teaching notes, films, scenarios, and resources and are intended to blend with the 8-hour adult Mental Health First Aid course.
It is best if instructors have some background or connection to these special audiences. If they don’t, instructors targeting a specific audience should partner with a certified instructor with experience with that group.To add a curriculum supplement designation to their profile, instructors must view an orientation webinar and pass the associated quiz. Certified instructors will then be able to purchase the curriculum supplement materials from the Mental Health First Aid Storefront for their designations.


Course Delivery

Once I’m an instructor, how many people can I train at a time?
Courses should have no more than 30 and no less than 10 participants to ensure group participation and interaction.
Can participants leave the course for brief periods of time?
While participants may step out for a couple of minutes for personal reasons, participants missing extended portions do not qualify for having attended the full course.
Can youth be trained as First Aiders?
Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses are designed for participants at least 18 years of age. If an instructor chooses to teach younger participants to be First Aiders, please note that Mental Health First Aid USA will not allow training participants younger than High School Juniors, and requires that organizations make sure the participants are mature and serious about their role as a First Aider. Youth may be allowed to participate provided there is consent from school administration and they have a signed parental or guardian permission slip. We encourage the use of an application or screening process that demonstrates the leadership and maturity level of the First Aider candidates.
Do instructors have to teach the whole course?
Yes, the entire eight hours of course content must be taught to qualify as a Mental Health First Aid course excluding lunch or breaks; so please allot sufficient training time in the planning process.
Can instructors break the curriculum up into sections?
Yes, the curriculum breaks naturally into two four-hour sections or into four two-hour sections. Typically, instructors either teach the entire course in one day, two four-hour segments over two days, or four two-hour segments over four days.
How much time can elapse between these sections?
Courses taught in two four-hour sections should not be scheduled more than two weeks apart, weekly if taught in four two-hour sections. If course sections must be scheduled further apart, additional time should be added at the start of the next section to review the content and concepts discussed previously.
Can I teach the course alone, or do I need a training partner?
Although an instructor may teach the course alone, instructors should co-teach with another certified instructor. This provides participants with an opportunity to experience different teaching styles and some exercises are more effective when facilitated by a team. Co-teaching also provides flexibility to respond to anyone who needs one-on-one time to process the material due to the sensitive nature of the content. Please note that a maximum of two certified Mental Health First Aid instructors can be credited for teaching any one course.


Course Materials and Evaluation

How big a room do I need and how should it be set up?
Rooms should accommodate: six participants per table (up to 30 participants), a table for materials, projector, screen, a flip chart, and space for additional movement around the room for the interactive exercises.
Do I need to include resource lists?
Instructors are responsible for integrating local resources into each course, frequently referencing them throughout the course, and ensuring each participant leaves the course knowing how to connect with these resources.
Does every participant need a manual?
Yes, each participant must receive a manual to keep as part of the course materials.
When should I order manuals?
For timely delivery, manuals and other materials must be ordered at least two weeks in advance of the course to avoid rush fees.
I coordinate trainings for multiple instructors. How can I gain access to their account so I can enter evaluations on their behalf?
Coordinator access allows a designated individual to add upcoming courses for instructors, manage participant lists and evaluation feedback, and download aggregate data reports. Coordinators are not required to be Mental Health First Aid instructors themselves. To become a coordinator, send the completed Coordinator Access Authorization Form to
Once I have coordinator access, will I be able to purchase manuals and other materials for my organization?
While coordinators have access to instructors’ courses and evaluation data entry, only certified instructors are permitted to purchase materials through the storefront. Instructors who need assistance submitting a bulk purchase thorough the storefront or using a purchase order should contact

Additional Resources

In addition to the information outlined on this website, the following one page descriptions are available for download.

The following national data is available (by zip code) upon request:

  • Instructors (Youth/Adult)
  • First Aiders
  • Organizations with Mental Health First Aid Instructors
  • Schools with Instructors

To submit a data request, email Requests for data will be filled within 7-10 business days.

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